Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wage Protections for Home Care Workers Reinstated

This is from an article in Disability Scoop by Michelle Diament, August 21, 2015:

…A federal appeals court has upheld a rule requiring that in-home care workers assisting people with disabilities be paid minimum wage and overtime.

…Labor Department regulations issued in 2013 extended minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers for the first time. Under the rules, most caregivers must receive at least the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour and qualify for time-and-a-half if they work more than 40 hours per week.

The wage protections …were struck down in January by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon who said the Labor Department had overstepped its authority.

On Friday, however, a three-judge panel found otherwise…Trade groups representing agencies that employ many in-home care workers brought the court challenge. They said the pay hike could make such care unaffordable.

Some self-advocates have also argued that the pay increase could leave people with disabilities without the care they need to remain in the community.

Read the full article...

There is more to this story:

The lawsuit to stop the Department of Labor wage and overtime regulations from going into effect was brought by the Home Care Association of America, ADAPT, a disability rights group, and the National Council on Independent Living filed a brief against the Department of Labor regulations and supporting the Home Care Association.

In an earlier article from Disability Scoop, January 2015, ADAPT made this statement:

“The Department of Labor developed this rule without adequate involvement of the disability community which was concerned that without additional Medicaid funding, attendants would lose income that is vital to their lives and individuals with disabilities would be forced into institutions...ADAPT stands ready to work with organized labor and worker groups to fight for improvements in attendant wages and benefits in a manner that doesn’t sacrifice the rights and freedom of people with disabilities.”

Home Help Services is a mandatory Medicaid-funded service, meaning that it must be provided to all eligible people on Medicaid. That includes people with disabilities who live in their own or their family's home who need in-home service providers who can assist with daily activities. The question is, will the federal government and the States increase funding to cover the extra costs of home care, or will they avoid the problem by cutting the number of hours available to people with disabilities or making other adjustments that interfere with people getting the services they need?

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